By (author) Bliss Broyard
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One Drop by Bliss Broyard
Book DescriptionTwo months before he died of cancer, renowned literary critic Anatole Broyard called his grown son and daughter to his side, intending to reveal a secret he'd kept all their lives and most of his own: he was black. But even as he lay dying, the truth was too diffi cult for him to share, and it was his wife who told Bliss Broyard that her WASPy, privileged Connecticut childhood had come at a price. Ever since his own parents, New Orleans Creoles, had moved to Brooklyn and begun to 'pass' in order to get work, Anatole had learned to conceal his racial identity. As he grew older and entered the ranks of the New York literary elite, he maintained the facade. Now his daughter Bliss tries to make sense of her father's choices and the impact of this revelation on her own life. She searches out the family she never knew in New York and New Orleans, and considers the profound consequences of racial identity. With unsparing candor and nuanced insight, Broyard chronicles her evolution from sheltered WASP to a woman of mixed-race ancestry.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780316163507
(241mm x 163mm x 38mm)
Imprint: Little, Brown & Company
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Publish Date: 6-Dec-2007
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Bliss Broyard
One Drop, Paperback (December 2008)» View all books by Bliss Broyard
The 'fascinating and insightful book' (New York Times) in which Bliss Broyard examines her celebrated father's life and illuminates questions of race, identity and the American dream.
US Kirkus Review » The daughter of former New York Times book critic Anatole Broyard (1920 - 90) relentlessly pursues the story of his mixed racial heritage, which he had concealed.Bliss Broyard began her own career with a collection of short stories, My Father Dancing (1999), published nine years after her mother finally revealed that Anatole came from a New Orleans family of blacks and Creoles. Bliss and her brother were, to say the least, surprised. They had grown up in suburban Connecticut, spent summers on Martha's Vineyard and attended exclusive, mostly white schools. Although the kids had met their grandmother and an aunt when they were small, their father never mentioned his large extended family in the Big Easy. After he died, his daughter determined to get it all and to get it right, embarking on years of prodigious research involving multiple trips to New Orleans; searches for birth certificates, former homes, places of business; numerous interviews with family, friends, lovers, employers. The result is a complicated and sometimes distracting tapestry that weaves together the Broyard family tree, her father's biography and her mother's much briefer backstory with her own childhood, adolescence and young womanhood. Adding to the narrative ungainliness are large - sometimes too large - doses of social history: of New Orleans, of race in America, even of DNA testing. Despite occasional silliness, as when the author mentions that some people had always said she danced like a black girl, the tone here is generally serious. A not-so-admirable Anatole Broyard emerges. Though his daughter endeavors to understand him, less forgiving readers will be repulsed by his cold rejection of his birth family, his serial sexual escapades before and during his marriages, his ferocious, vaulting ambition, his personal and professional arrogance, his paternal pettiness. These are not qualities that Bliss Broyard wishes to highlight, but she does not downplay them either. The expansive narrative is in need of pruning. Still, this uniquely American story of race and ambition is of surpassing importance. (Kirkus Reviews)
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